Tag Archives: gaming

Life’s an itch

I got back into World of Warcraft.

With the impending release of World of Warcraft Classic, I felt that familiar itch for some sweet MMORPG action. Since Classic isn’t even in beta yet, I settled for the current iteration.

My last run at WoW was just after the release of Legion, the previous expansion. It was my first playing since 2010, and I had a blast leveling my druid up to the new level cap and goofing around with a new guild. Eventually, I hit my peak (or at least the best I could do without scheduled and consistent raiding) and my interest waned. My subscription eventually lapsed, my itch fully scratched.

But that need for chasing an experience bar and finding new equipment slowly crept back into my brain.

So I settled for starting up a new character and exploring the gameplay changes with a new class and race since trial accounts are free until level 20. My Worgen warrior, under the name of my old druid character, was supposed to be my outlet for my desperate need for MMO-brand satisfaction.

I made it to level 18 before I completely forgot about it. I didn’t feel the need to log back in. The itch hadn’t been scratched or anything—I just didn’t want to keep going. Maybe it was the knowledge that Classic is on the way. Or maybe the WoW subreddit is right and the game’s mechanics are just straight-up unsatisfying now.

(Full disclosure: I logged back in just now to check what level I made it to and ended up making the final push to 20 and got my first mount. Wasn’t exactly a sigh of relief, but it was almost enjoyable.)

Either way, it made me realize how impossible it is truly satisfy that need for what originally got me hooked on the king of MMORPGs. There’s a very unique brand of nostalgia for exploring a vibrant world with other people, for learning new spells and forms, for persevering against tough bosses for the first time.

But there’s also that classic desire for a simpler time where I could focus on the game and learning it with other newbies—learning not just WoW specifically, but the genre itself. That’s not the game anymore, and it never will be. I can’t really put myself back in level 60 gear and figure out how to best DPS as a feral druid on my first big boy raid.

It’s not exactly a satisfying lesson, or even a particularly helpful one—I still have the desire for that warm nostalgia. But at least I can understand how to approach that desire and what state of mind I need to be in when I approach other games.

Unfortunately for my Worgen warrior, I don’t think he’s going to make it to level 120. He’s earned his mount, so I think he’s earned some rest, too.

And I’m still going to keep my eyes glued to that Classic release countdown.

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Five Games That Have Me Tamed

[I was lucky enough to correspond with the folks at Official Xbox Magazine about a year ago. I applied for a staff writer position, but I didn’t make the cut seeing as how I didn’t have a UK work visa. Womp womp (hey, I got to write a piece for the print magazine, which was a life goal). They did ask for a summary of what I’d been playing, and I really liked the end result. So here it is.]

Watch_Dogs

Developer: Ubisoft Montreal

The poster child for internet outrage, Watch_Dogs served as a warning about big promises for little packages. I picked it up from Games With Gold with expectations lowered after three years of reading threads featuring the internet’s anger. Several hours and one spider tank later, Watch_Dogs is arguably my second favorite freebie in the program’s four year history, passing up hits like #IDARB and Sunset Overdrive (and falling behind Dark Souls).

Rightfully criticized for its misguided promises and bland plot, the game’s problems are easy to spot. The charm of the game, though, is in its stereotypically gritty protagonist. Sure, he’s your classic too tough tough guy, but his interactions with his sister offer a bit more than flaccid badassery. Her criticisms aren’t about his vigilantism or certain set of skills or whatever—instead, she begs him to snap out of his delusions and actually change for the better. Aiden Pearce isn’t a hero. He’s a man too stubborn to change, despite proof that his misguided coping mechanism (beating petty criminals with a baton) is only harming his remaining family and himself. Pearce is relatable in the most painful ways, making him one of the most human protagonists I’ve gotten to play.

A Dark Room

Developer: Doublespeak Games

A text-based idle game, A Dark Room pits the player and their growing band of apocalypse survivors against the ever hostile wilderness. The player, along with a mysterious stranger that offers prophecies and settlement expansions, must find a way to survive by exploring the wild remains of the world. The mystique is quickly outweighed by the tedium though. Resource management is more waiting than balancing, meaning the mysteries of the ruined world are locked behind hours of leaving the game actively running.

Fortunately, or unfortunately for the survivors, there’s no shortage of grues.

Mortal Kombat XL

Developer: NetherRealm Studios

Whereas Mortal Kombat (2009) was a breath of fresh air in the long-running series, Mortal Kombat X is a whole lungful. Of course, that lung is quickly ripped out in one of the many fantastic fatalities and brutal, er, brutalities. The new characters are all solid, making even well-explored playstyles, like Ferra/Torr’s slow but strong bashing or Erron Black’s gunkata, just as fun as series’ staples like Johnny Cage and Scorpion. Unfortunately, NetherRealm’s post-launch content continues to be sketchy. Just like Injustice 2, it feels like the complete version is only available about a year after initial launch.

Doom

Developer: id Software

When you’re in the mood for Doom, it’s hard to argue with the fwoom of a grenade firing out of a shotgun tube. Doom’s always embraced its absurdities, but Doom 3 was more slow tension than speedy slaughter. This version shoots beyond breakneck to crown the player champion of carnage; Mick Gordon’s brutal metal soundtrack is the perfect fuel on the hellfire. With the effective death of rhythm genre, Doom’s the closest thing to a music game we’ll see this generation. Every riff is an invitation to massacre demon and monster alike on Mars, come Hell or…well, Hell.

Madden NFL 15

Developer: EA Tiburon

Madden is a lot of things now. All of them are pretty much the same game, but that’s beside the point(s). Everything else I’m playing offers fresh experiences, new worlds that make me want to talk about them the second I turn off the console. Madden, on the other hand, is the gaming equivalent of my worn out, threadbare pajamas. It’s the easy comfort I can turn to when I need a no thought distraction. The mechanics are shoddy, the graphics and animations are more terrifying than not, and it’ll never be patched. But damn is it comfy.

PCP: Trials Fusion

Fun Fridayz #20 -Frenzied Flash Feels

A Fusion of Fun and Frustrations

The short of it: It’s got wheels, and they run wild.

Once again, I get my dose of gaming variety through the Games with Gold program.

Trials is arguably a classic of the seventh generation. It was a flagship of the Xbox Arcade and a standard of any Let’s Player of the past few years.

And it’s fine. It’s like every bit of gameplay you’ve seen from it or its predecessors. It’s fun enough and checks all its boxes.

The problem I run into is the delayed satisfaction– or at the very least, the delayed possibility of satisfaction. I admit to being obsessed with achievements, despite the fact that I still haven’t broke 100,000. Yet.

Trials’ campaign of sorts is a series of worlds, each with their own levels and minigames. Each level comes with three varying challenges, like don’t tilt backwards, do a 50m wheelie, run over all the flowers, or do five flips. Here’s the thing: not all of these challenges are immediately accomplishable. I spent far too long on the first world, only to find out that I couldn’t do certain moves until I advanced. Then the same thing happened again in the next world. I kept having to earn new licenses to learn to new tricks to beat challenges in levels in earlier worlds.

It’s a minor complaint about a longstanding way to teach gameplay mechanics in consumable bites. But it still grinds my gears.

PCP: The Long Dark

Fun Friday #15 – Ffffffffroze Fun

Long Dark, Short Arrival

Alright, I’ll be honest, I took a personal day to recover. This’ll be updated tomorrow

Hey, it’s updated. The short of it is I’m exhausted and this game is dope– if you’re into survival and atmosphere, pick this up ASAP. As much fun as I had, I think I’ll wait for a sale to pick this up.

Okay, so I survived the long dark.

Not the game, the skull splitting hangover I got from a single sugary alcoholic drink for my birthday coupled with a week of exhaustion.

I did not survive The Long Dark.

That might be because I was playing the trial version of the now “finished” game– a rarity in the survival genre. Along with the fact that this is true survival, not survival horror, not survival zombie base building early access, or whatever other obnoxious tags get tacked onto the remnants of the Greenlight program, The Long Dark is almost a miracle.

Not only did it emerge from dreaded Early Access, it did so with a flourish, adding a story mode with its ultimate release. After playing through five or so days in said story mode, it’s delightfully competent. The animations for character interactions (depicted in flashbacks and only a little interaction) are these moving painted styles that manage to work with the gameplay’s very-obviously-Unity looks.

With a hotbutton for managing all of the important tasks for survival, like eating or crafting, the tension for survival is built on your management of resources, both material, chronological, and caloric. Instead of losing yourself in the frustration of management menus and mysterious blueprints that require a wiki, it’s truly all on your ability to survive.

So you find yourself, alone, with the wind howling in your ears as you desperately try to make a fire out of an old newspaper and the scattering of branches from the snowstorm.

Days pass. Maybe you don’t make it. Maybe you do, maybe you luck out and stumble on a cache and the corpse of its creator. Either way, you’ll eventually end up in a similar situation.

You find yourself, alone again, but you’re locked in the comfort of your cave. The fire is roaring, stocked with reclaimed wood and lumber, with a guaranteed burn time of nearly half a day. Your supply of venison and dog food give you a few days of comfort in the face of a blinding blizzard. The three bullets you own are always near your grasp, protecting you from the harsh realities of a devastated world.

And yet you feel no better than you did when your vision started to blur from exhaustion and hypothermia and your numb fingers struggled with tinder.

This is the possessive, enthralling terror of The Long Dark. There are no hordes to outsmart, no bosses to beat. Every sunrise isn’t a symbol of the warmth and hope. Instead, it’s a cold reminder that in just a few short hours, your body may consume the final calories of energy left in your body. Your new shelter may become a mangy wolf’s new home. You might just forget to boil your water when your thirst becomes too great.

Or you just might forget where your shelter is when the storm hits and the snow blinds you, leaving you to become just another victim of the long dark.